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The Private Lives of Pictures: Art at home in Britain, 1800–1940

Abstract: ‘How many people kissed their pictures in private?’ asks Tromans in this affectionate and astonishingly detailed study of art in domestic spaces. Thomas De Quincey admitted puckering up – on a print after Van Dyck’s Duchess of Somerset, if you must know – but the wider context is the evolving role of the image, from devotional to secular, shrine to sofa, exhibition to bedroom – often encompassing multiple meanings simultaneously. This is a book about pictures framed by the home rather than the gallery. As such, Tromans embraces the changing and often contradictory meanings of home, moving effortlessly between the public and the private, bridged by the figure of the collector and complicated by the role of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. This is deliberately not a book about painting – although there is much said about the medium – but focuses on the role of the image in the creation of a thinking, feeling domestic interior. Chromo-kitsch hovers over the thesis with both threat and opportunity, bound up with notions of style, taste and identity.
Keywords: art / pictures / domestic / private / book / home / Tromans embraces / astonishingly detailed

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